Disneyland Just Quietly Brought Back "Canceled" Character
The controversial Br'er Fox character was a key figure at the former Splash Mountain attraction.
Frequent Disney park visitors—and even those who've only visited once or twice—will remember Splash Mountain. The popular ride first opened at Disneyland in 1989 and at Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland in 1992. While the Tokyo ride is still up and running, Splash Mountain at both U.S. Disney parks closed earlier this year, after a petition to change the ride's theme went viral in 2020, USA Today reported. The flume ride was inspired by the 1946 Disney Film Song of the South, which has been criticized for perpetuating racist stereotypes. But although Disney did away with the animatronic characters and other images associated with Song of the South, one character has now been spotted at Disneyland again. Read on to find out more about Br'er Fox's return.
Splash Mountain is currently undergoing renovations.
At both the Florida and California parks, Disney is in the process of replacing Splash Mountain with Tiana's Bayou Adventure, which will be themed around the 2009 Disney movie The Princess and the Frog. According to Deadline, the ride's original inspiration, Song of the South, faced specific criticism for "romanticizing the Antebellum South"—the period leading up to the American Civil War—and for its portrayal of Black characters.
"While the rides [sic] storyline is not an exact version of the movies [sic] plot line it is derivative from it, the characters, the songs and locations are all main features of the ride," the 2020 petition read, per Deadline.
While some visitors were supporters of the "old Disney days," per Disney Dining, a spokesperson confirmed plans to convert Splash Mountain in 2020, with Disney stating that the idea had been in the works since 2019.
"The new concept is inclusive–one that all of our guests can connect with and be inspired by, and it speaks to the diversity of the millions of people who visit our parks each year … Tiana is a modern, courageous and empowered woman, who pursues her dreams and never loses sight of what's really important," a Disneyland spokesperson said at the time, per Deadline.
A controversial character is back again.
Soon, guests will see familiar characters such as Princess Tiana (Disney's first Black princess), Prince Naveen, and Mama Odie at the former Splash Mountain site, but it appears that Song of the South characters aren't gone for good.
At Disneyland, Br'er Fox, the South of the South antagonist and Splash Mountain character, is back again, Inside The Magic reported. In a July 23 tweet, @ThemeParkCasual pointed out that you can get Br'er Fox's image at a pressed penny machine at The Mad Hatter Shop on Main Street.
In response, @CodeSpyder confirmed that "Br'er Fox standing and pointing with Critter Country logo" was also showing up on an app that shows where you can find certain pressed coins.
According to Disney Dining, music, merchandise, and foods from Splash Mountain were removed in light of the changes—and that included the Br'er Fox penny from the aforementioned machine. But while it's unclear why the penny is available again, Inside The Magic calls it a "curious" decision.
Best Life reached out to Disneyland for comment, and will update the story upon hearing back.
A pressed penny machine also reappeared at Disney World.
This return of the Br'er Fox penny is interestingly timed with the return of a pressed penny machine near the former Splash Mountain restrooms at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
On July 22, one day before @ThemeParkCasual's tweet, WDW News Today reported that this machine was returned without the Splash Mountain designs that were once available. The outlet notes that guests weren't expecting to see this machine back just yet, as construction on Tiana's Bayou Adventure continues.
Instead of Splash Mountain designs, the machine now has options for Minnie Mouse, Chip 'n Dale, and Mickey with Pluto. WDW News Today speculates that this machine may eventually have options for character designs from The Princess and the Frog, but they're not currently offered.
There are some spooky speculations, too.
There may be bigger issues than pressed pennies anyway, as there have been a series of strange incidents at Disneyland's former Splash Mountain site.
"So my husband is working on the splash mountain / tiana ride at Disneyland, right now it's mainly demo and let me tell you splash mountain isn't going down without a fight," an anonymous source first wrote in the Disneyland Rumors and News Facebook group. "From what he tells me, the ride seems to be haunted. I'm not much of a believer in such things but it's funny to hear the stories he tells me."
The post eventually made its way to Reddit, listing a series of odd occurrences, including tools that disappear and reappear "in hard to get areas," unexplained fires, and a small explosion.
As the post was anonymous, there's no way to determine if the claims are legitimate, but we'll just have to wait for more news ahead of the attraction's anticipated opening next year.